The late Bob Benton of Porterville, CA spent several years in the 1970s driving for Bruce Buhlert Trucking of Terra Bella, CA. He wanted his own truck, so in 1973 he pieced together a solid 1968 Peterbilt 359 from two of Bruce’s wrecked logging trucks and dubbed it “Ol’ Yeller.” He started with a good set of frame rails from another truck that had been wrecked three years previously. By early June 1974, Ol’ Yeller was ready to haul its first load of logs pulling a logging dolly that had also been scrapped together from available used parts. Bob’s “new” Pete was powered with a 335-hp Cummins engine and backed by a 4X4 Spicer transmission. Although his primary career was teaching automotive and diesel technology at Porterville College, Bob supported his family and put himself through graduate school by driving trucks. He frequently returned to his truck-driving roots during summers by hauling logs in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It was always an adventure, and Bob enjoyed recounting his many experiences. One of his favorite tales involved “battery electron fluid” that he supposedly used to fix a non-responsive battery in a flatlander’s car – partly because the car was blocking the isolated logging road. All he truly did was clean the connection terminal, but he told the fellow he’d used his spare can of battery electron fluid to fill the battery because it was low on electrons. In the fall of 1977 a trucker friend wanted to buy Ol’ Yeller and offered a very attractive price, so Bob decided to sell the truck. During her career with Bob, Ol’ Yeller faithfully hauled logs from as far north as Shaver and Huntington Lakes and as far south as Lake Arrowhead in Southern California. Bob said, “She was a great old truck!” The boys in this old photo are Bob’s sons – they are all grown up now, but back then they frequently rode with their dad when they were out of school.
John & Shirley Sponholtz have been involved with old trucks for over 20 years. Shirley was editor at Wheels of Time for 12 years before going out on her own and starting Old Time Trucks magazine in 2004. John is an avid photographer who enjoys taking pictures of odd and/or rare trucks (he provides most of the pictures for this article and their magazine). John & Shirley, who are from Richmond, Indiana, have been regular contributors to 10-4 Magazine since 2006.